The last two weeks have seen so many communications and so much talk about planning and being prepared. Australia is now aware that there is something called COVID-19. We are being deluged by information on TV, radio and papers and through emails, messages and social media. While information is important, particularly trustworthy and relevant information, what we do with this information is even more important.
One of the challenges with pandemics, is we cannot definitely know which individuals will be infected and which individuals will become critically ill? We know there are some groups at higher risk such as those who are older, people with compromised immune systems, or those with chronic medical conditions. We know that in some countries there have been large numbers of people who have become infected and as a result become critically ill. Many of us have tried to prepare by getting in some supplies in case we are sick or have to self-isolate. We have tried to help by contacting parents and friends. We also know that we can take precautions through reducing our social contact and by washing our hands well and frequently. But even given all the information and the shopping and the preparing, how many of us have taken the time to stop and think about what we would want to happen if we became seriously ill or if someone close to us was seriously ill?
Many of us know about advance care planning and may even have thought about making a plan or sharing with our family what we would want at the end of life. Maybe this is a good time to do more than think about it. Having a discussion with family and friends can help you clarify what matters most to you if you were extremely sick and at the end of life. Understanding what you would or would not want to have done to you is important. Making sure it is documented can help support the people who could be asked to make a decision about your care if you are seriously ill and unable to communicate. And most importantly, if you don’t get sick you, this plan won’t be needed. But you can know that you really were prepared for every eventuality.
Making a plan is not something we should be afraid of. We plan for many things in life and this is just one of them. We make wills, plan for our child’s education and plan for our careers. We do this so that we can guide what happens.
There are many sources of information about advance care planning as a process and about different forms of documents. Advance Care Planning Australia provides general information and resources relevant to each state and territory. They will even send you a free information pack by filling in this form. So take the time to talk and make the time to plan.
CareSearch has information on COVID 19 for patients, carers and families and for health professionals.
Professor Jennifer Tieman, CareSearch Director, College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University